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Good complaint management equals good PR

Barbara Coles

Barbara Coles

The phone rings. It’s another one of “those” calls—a complaint. And, for the sake of this example, you are unsure whether it is your firm or the client at fault.

How well will your or your staff handle this situation? Does your staff realize that these critical moments in client service can actually be a public relations gold mine, generating free, word-of-mouth advertising (the best kind of public relations) for your business?

Keeping the client happy
Today’s business climate is characterized by stiff competition for a narrowing client base. Reacting to this business trend, smart companies are more client-focused. Giving excellent service designed to keep clients happy is now a survival issue for every organization.

Because roughly 70 percent of “lost clients” leave due to the perception that an employee, manager or owner is indifferent to the client’s needs, the way your employees respond to complaints and problems is a crucial factor in determining the quality of your client service.

The Problem
Clients feel dissatisfied when they feel dismissed or discounted: therefore, it is most important to acknowledge a client’s complaint or concern immediately. A simple sentence like “I understand your situation. Let me see if I can help,” may calm an unhappy client and allow you to gather further information in sorting things out rationally.

Confirm your understanding of the facts as the client has stated them. What matters to the client is knowing that you fully understand the situation from his or her viewpoint.

Investigate and communicate
So that a client will not feel put-off, research any problem quickly. If a lengthy investigation is necessary, give the client an idea of what your process will be and when he or she will likely have a result. At a later time, check in with the client by phone or personal note or email to let him or her know that you’re still working toward the resolution of the problem.

Roughly, 90 percent of departing clients slip away without making their concerns known—and they never return. Therefore, treat each complaint as a gold mine of information and a chance to prove your business is truly committed to client service. Affirm the reasonable client by saying something like, “I’m glad you told us about this. Nothing is more important to us than your satisfaction. Your feedback gives our company a chance to improve.”

The real work begins with finding acceptable alternatives. Make the client’s problem your problem. Involve the client in brainstorming potential solutions and, when you think you have a solution, ask if the client is satisfied.

When you can’t win
In some cases, what the client wants is beyond your power or your organization’s power to deliver. In those situations, you should state the facts firmly, but tactfully. Show that you are truly sorry that you cannot fulfill the request and explain your situation in terms that the client can understand.

Despite your best efforts, some clients will not take “no” for an answer and will remain upset. At all costs, avoid expressing irritation. When possible, allow the client recourse to speak to someone in higher authority. End the discussion firmly but politely, expressing your sincere regret for their difficulty.

Why did I do all that?
In many instances, the proof of good business is not that mistakes never happen—that’s fiction and almost everyone knows it. Good business is proven by how much the client can trust that dealings with that corporation will always be pleasant and fair. From a client viewpoint, finding such an establishment is worth talking about!


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Can you capitalize? Prove it. BuzzWise May 2013

CapitalizeCapitalize the first word in a sentence. Sure, you knew that, right?

But what about capitalizing titles that appear before names, but not after? You’ll learn that and much more in one of the articles in our most recent BuzzWise newsletter!

We’ll also give you an inside look at one of the increasingly popular tools keeping our Coles creative team busy … VIDEO!

And what’s being dubbed content marketing’s quiet giant? It’s SlideShare! Find out more!

Take a look at our May BuzzWise newsletter … and sign up to join our mailing list today!


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Sow It, Float It And Grow It!

Check out this new hydroponics starter kit from our client steadyGROWpro. Click on the graphic for more information.


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